We wanted to write a short blog post today to cover the HIPAA and the CARES Act.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law by President Trump on 3/27/2020.  In this law, you will come across a reference to HIPAA.  As many of you may know, we have been expecting some updates to the HIPAA Regulations for a few years now.  Is this the HIPAA update we have been waiting to see?  No, these aren’t the HIPAA updates you’re looking for.

While HIPAA is mentioned in the CARES Act, there are no changes to HIPAA.  What is occurring, is the updating of the Confidentiality of records related to substance use disorders in Subsections (a) and (h) Sections of 543 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 290dd–2) and Paragraph (1) of section 543(b) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 290dd–2(b)).  These sections of the Public Health Services Act cover the Confidentiality of records section of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Congress is just updating the confidentiality rules that providers involved with SAMHSA need to abide by, namely:

  • A patient may provide written consent for uses and disclosures related to treatment, payment, and health care operation as permitted by HIPAA. Any Subsequent uses and disclosures of PHI by covered entities, business associates, or other SAMHSA entities must be made in accordance with the HIPAA regulations. The patient can revoke their consent at any time.
  • De-identified PHI may be disclosed to Public Health Authorities
  • SAMHSA Providers will need to make breach notification based on HIPAA
  • SAMHSA providers will need to create a Notice of Privacy Practices

The Secretary of Health and Human Services has 12 months make the revisions described in the CARES Act.

Once last item, NCPA will be hosting a webinar for Pharmacy Owners entitled How the CARES Act Can Improve Cash Flow and How to Act On It.  This should be an informative webinar to help you better understand the opportunities the CARES Act offers.  You can register here.